August CEO Turnover Report: CEO Turnover Jumps 149% YOY, Highest YTD Total on Record

Published September 26, 2023

157 CEOs Leave Their Posts in August, Up 149% Over Last Year

The number of CEO changes at U.S. companies remained high in August as 157 CEOs left their posts in the month. It is down 20% from the 197 CEO changes announced in July, and up 149% from the 63 CEOs who left their posts in August 2022, according to a report released Tuesday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. CEO Turnover data for August 2023. U.S. CEO Departures by Month YTD 2018 - 2023

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

So far this year, 1,261 CEOs have left their posts, up 41% from the 895 CEO changes during the same period in 2022. It is the highest total in the first eight months of the year since the firm began tracking in 2002. The previous eight-month high occurred in 2019, when 1,009 CEO exits were recorded through August.

“Some indicators suggest the economy might be slowing somewhat, and with the rise in labor costs and potential uncertainty, companies might be looking for new leadership,” said Andrew Challenger, workplace expert and Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Women CEOs

The rate of new CEOs who are women continues to hold steady throughout the year at 29%. It is higher than the 26% of new CEOs who were women during the same period in 2022. Meanwhile, women CEOs leaving the top spot is holding at 22%, up from 18% during the corresponding period in 2022. 2023 is seeing more new CEOs who are women than any previous year. Fully half of the incoming women CEOs are in the Government/Non-Profit sector, with 37% coming from Non-Profits. Seventeen percent are in Health Care and Hospitals. Another 6% are in Entertainment/Leisure.

Where are CEO Exits Happening?

Government/Non-Profit led last month with 48 CEO exits, 43 of which occurred in Non-Profits. The sector has seen a total of 325 exits this year, up 68% from the 193 announced through August last year.

“During economic uncertainty, fundraising can dry up and Boards may look to new leaders to attract new donors,” said Challenger.

Technology saw 17 CEO exits last month for a total of 129, the second-highest industry for CEO turnover this year. It is up 32% over the same period last year, when 98 CEOs left Tech companies.

Hospitals have seen 116 CEO exits this year, up 51% from the 77 Hospital CEOs who left their posts during the same period last year.

Reasons for Exits

Companies are most often not giving reasons for their CEOs’ departures at 404, 32% of all CEO exits, up from the 23% of CEOs who left for this reason last year.

Another 288 CEOs retired this year or 23% of all exits, the same rate as last year. Forty-four CEOs found new positions within their companies, usually heading up another division or location within the umbrella company, while 207 (16%) of CEOs “stepped down” into other C-level, advisory, or Board roles.

Six CEOs left amid professional misconduct allegations, such as fraud or mismanagement of funds. One CEO left due to sexual harassment allegations, the same as in 2022.

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Contact Colleen Madden Blumenfeld for more data or to set up an interview with SVP Andy Challenger.

Contact Challenger for Media Inquiries

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